The fans and media piled on. And Lou roared -- and laughed -- back.

The fans and media piled on.


And Lou roared -- and laughed -- back.


On Thursday, critics in newspapers and on radio stations and TV stations tore into Cubs manager Lou Piniella for his strategy during the Cubs’ 3-1 loss to Arizona on Wednesday night in the Game 1 of the National League Division Series.


Most notable, he was taken to task for removing Carlos Zambrano after six innings (and just 85 pitches) with the score tied at 1, because Piniella wanted to use Zambrano in a potential Game 4 on Sunday (on three days’ rest) at Wrigley Field.


Rookie Carlos Marmol came in and gave up two runs in the seventh, and out came the wolves.


The fan forums on the Cubs’ official Web site had their share of threads dedicated to Lou-bashing.


“LP Totally MISMANAGED This Game!!!!!” was one. “BRING BACK DUSTY!!!” was another. “WORST managed game in playoff history???”


There was also a “Lou’s major mess up last nigh” thread that had one fan so upset, he or she forgot to “t” up the word “night,” but still teed up Piniella.


Sure, there were some who defended Piniella, but overall, the hostile fans had more of a presence.


Piniella met the criticism with some anger and some humor.


“When you manage a team, everybody is a manager, what can I tell you?” he said. “The only thing -- the people who write it write it after the fact, not before it. Or during. I don’t care about ESPN or anything else. That’s why they’re doing their job in the studio.


“But to bring back memories of the goat and 99 years of frustration because I removed a starting pitching (after the) sixth inning is a little crazy.”


Piniella said he couldn’t understand the unpopularity of bringing in a Marmol, who had a 1.43 ERA in 59 appearances during the regular season.


“Everybody wanted me to close with this guy,” Piniella said. “All of a sudden, I bring him in the seventh inning of a ballgame and now nobody wants him in there. Come on.


“I bring him in during the seventh inning of a ballgame and it’s like the billy goat came out of the grave and --what the hell is his name? -- (Leo) Durocher was turning over in his grave and everything else. I mean, for God’s sake. I think there’s an overreaction to this.”


Piniella thought the game was lost because the Cubs left nine men on base and managed just four hits against Diamondbacks pitching.


“The reason we lost that ballgame was we didn’t take advantage of opportunities,” Piniella said. “And if I’m going to lose a ballgame like we did last night, I would rather lose it with my bullpen than with my starting pitcher and have him come back with three days’ rest with the burden of having to win on Sunday. Now people don’t understand that part of it.”


Piniella said he understands that being second-guessed is a part of being a high-profile manager.


“You’re going to be criticized in this business, but I have to do what I think is best,” he said. “But look, this wasn’t gut. This was thought out. Sometimes your best plans don’t go the way you expect. If everybody were perfect, we wouldn’t have to be playing these games.


“It doesn’t bother me, because I have confidence in myself. And the past here doesn’t bother me in the least. I deal in the present and the future. That’s it.


“It’s over and done,” he added. “I felt bad we lost. But I would do the same thing.”